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Keep your workers and site visitors safe with a fully designed working at heights safety system for your roof.

Falls from heights remain, sadly, one of the most common sources of injury in workplace accidents. For those working on roofs or at heights in other situations, the risks of having a fall are all too real.

While it is always preferred that the risk of a fall be removed by simply not going on the roof or raised area in the first place, staying firmly on the ground is not always an option. In many circumstances working on roofs, or at heights more broadly, cannot be avoided. While workplace safety is everybody’s responsibility, for building owners and facility managers there are a few simple steps they can follow to provide a good balance of safety for workers and others needing to access the roof of their building or site.

The simplest way to protect those who need to work on roofs is to have a permanent height safety system installed that is compliant with all relevant Australian laws, standards and regulations. Depending on the nature of your roof, the type of work being undertaken and the frequency at which access to the area will be required, your height safety system could take on a number of different forms.

Participant using a static line on a flat roof as part of a work safely at heights training course.

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Height safety systems explained

What sort of system do I need for safe working on roofs?

Height safety systems for those working on roofs can take on a variety of different forms depending on a range of different facets and the unique requirements of each individual building.

Systems for those undertaking working on roofs come on in two general flavours: those that require the use of a harness and those that do not.

Having a system that does not require the use of a harness is generally preferred, however there are many reasons why this may not be possible. A system for those working on roofs that does not require the use of the harness is often made up of guardrails or parapets that form a physical barrier between the worker and the area where a fall from height may occur.

In situations where a system like this cannot be installed, it may be necessary to install one that does require the use of a harness. These systems also come in a variety of forms depending on the tasks needing to be undertaken on the roof.

The simplest form of a system that requires the use of a harness is a single anchor point onto which a lanyard is attached. The lanyard connects the harness to the anchor point. Working together, the anchor point, harness, lanyard and a shock absorber work as a complete system to protect the wearer should a fall occur.

Another common component of safety systems for working on roofs that requires the use of a harness is the static line. A static line is a tensioned steel cable onto which a shuttle is attached. The shuttle acts similar to an anchor point and is connect to a lanyard, which in turn is connected to the harness. The shuttle travels along the static line, allowing the operator to reposition themselves without having to transfer to a new anchor point.

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What else might I come across while working on roofs

There are numerous other elements that may be included in a system to help facilitate safe working on roofs. All chosen components of a system work together, along with the operator’s safety knowledge and working at heights skills, to help ensure the workplace remains as safe as practicable when working at heights.

Walkways may be installed on roofs where the surface itself is not suitable to carry the load of a worker and their equipment, the roof may be uneven or its surface may be too slippery.

To further protect workers from falls, a self-closing gate is often installed at the top of a permanent ladder. The gate, when closed, covers the gap in a guardrail or parapet needed to allow access to the roof from the ladder.

Height safety systems explained